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The case for risk

We’re afraid of making our desires known. It’s scary to show pieces of ourselves to another, parts that make us vulnerable, the gentle spaces we perceive as fragile. It’s easier to hide behind accomplishment and labels and somebody else’s dreams.

what if I’m alone

what if I can’t make rent

what if it never happens

what if I’m found out

what if I fail

Fear morphs into competitive comparison as we scan the lives of colleagues and peers, anxiously wondering if we measure up. Our minds stop us from living, from allowing ourselves to just be.

Imagine if all that watching and playing it safe on the sidelines turned into focused energy.

Who do you want to be?

What do you want to do?

When I finally pushed doubt to the side, I became a writer. I became generous, forgiving, loving, and daring because I stopped caring about what didn’t matter in the first place and started paying attention to moments that made my heart swell.

I’m scared often.

I’ve had to get comfortable living with little in my bank account and not having a neatly packaged answer when people ask, “What’s next?”

But because of that, I’ve experienced beautiful mysteries I would have otherwise missed.

Life shouldn’t be neatly laid out.

Not the life I want to live.

Modified from this original post.

How to create your future

Last weekend my team and I organized the first free outdoor film festival in Pokhara, Nepal. From crowdfunding to logistical planning, we spent months outlining how the event would run. Through hard work, grit, and perseverance, we turned what was once a dream into reality: Over 400 attendees enjoyed films in three different locations throughout the city. Popcorn, prizes, and toys were distributed. People who had never stepped foot in a movie theater were inspired by Rocky, Titanic, and Pocahontas. The smiles were priceless. And it was all set beneath starlight skies.

Plenty of times along the way we could have given up. When we first launched our crowdfunding campaign, I spent several days riddled at home with anxiety, wondering how and if we were really able to pull this off. We could have let frustration win when we were sent to yet another government office for another stamp or another signature. We could have shrugged our shoulders and moved on to another idea when we were questioned, “What is this? Who watches movies outside?” or asked about the motive of our program. We could have quit when we were laughed at.

But we didn’t. Even when we knew people were watching us, hoping we’d fail, we kept going.

And that, my friends, is how you create your future. You keep going.

When the naysayers doubt your dreams, even when you doubt your own abilities, keep going.

Your future is ready for you to create it.

Strike while the iron is hot

Success is complicated. Failure can be easier to unpack (and accept); a boot stomping out a potential future. Success, however, leads into a winding, mystifying unknown. This is scary to many people and for good reason.
When things start to go right, how do you respond? Do you take credit or attribute some outside force — the right place at the right time, a lucky draw, someone else’s connections, a recommendation from a trusted peer.
Sure, sometimes you get lucky. But when fortune starts to favor you, don’t back down or shy away from success. Keep working hard, keep saying yes, keep finishing tough projects. And remember: You deserve your wins.

The stories you tell

Every day you tell yourself stories; stories about what you are capable of, about who loves you, about the work you do, about the family you belong to, about the money you make, about the way you look in the mirror.
These stories are fuel for your tomorrow. They are the kindle for your actions. Your behavior is reinforced by the stories you tell yourself, and in turn, how others see you.
Are you choosing to focus on the negative? Or are you looking for possibility? Identify what stories currently exist in your mind, and compare them to the ones you’d like to be telling.
It’s never too late to start rewriting.

What do you want more than anything?

Grit. Determination. Focus. Passion. Stubbornness. Courage. Diligence. Patience.

Your biggest dreams will require all of these and more. You will wonder whether your sacrifices are “worth it.” You will question your decisions and make mistakes. You will disappoint others. You will disappoint yourself. Your resolve will be tested, over and over again.

But if you really, truly want something? Nothing will stop you.

Check out Diana Nyad’s story if you’re needing some inspiration today.